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Vegan Organic Growing by Graham Cole, Vegan Views 98 (Autumn 2003)

VV subscriber Graham Cole has worked on several large gardens since 1978. He is a strong supporter of the Vegan Organic Network, and will be the presenter on their forthcoming videos on stockfree organic agriculture.

Autumn Planning For Fruit

This is the time of year to plan for autumn planting of fruit and the following is a list of recommended varieties.

Soft Fruit

B&Q organic compost
Autumn Bliss rasperries, Aug 2003

Raspberries Modern varieties are large with vigorous canes with better resistance to damping in wet summers (not one of those this year!) "Glen Ample", "Glen Prosen" and "Malling Admiral" are good summer ones and for late summer/autumn cropping "Autumn Bliss" and "Fallgold"(yellow), which will give very useful amounts of berries in the first year. The autumn types don't seem to get eaten by birds so are an excellent choice if one variety in a small garden is required. Hybrid Cane Fruits and Blackberries. Train on wires and fences. Loganberry, Boysenberry and Sunberry are all different, and except for the latter, thornless varieties are available. Protect from birds they like them too! Blackberries come later, don't need netting, are usually bigger and juicier (if kept moist) than the wild forms and will crop very well on a north facing wall or fence if you are looking to grow something edible in a less sunny situation. "Ashton Cross", "Fantasia" and "Oregon Thornless".

Currants The newer varieties of Blackcurrants are later flowering so miss frosts, are more compact and have good resistance to disease. The Scottish bred Ben varieties I grow, "Ben Serek" and "Ben Connan". Whitecurrants in general are sweeter than red, the best flavoured being "White Grape" but this is not so widely available as "White Versailles". Good Redcurrants are "Red Lake" and "Stanza" which as well as being grown as bushes can also be fan trained against a wall/fence, even a north facing one. Gooseberries. These come in the colours white, red, green and yellow and will resist mildew if grown as fans or cordons (single, double or triple) so the air flows freely and they are easier to pick-avoiding the thorns. "Whitesmith" (white), "Langley Gage" (green and sweet), "Invicta" (green and mildew resistant), "Leveller" (yellow and one of the best flavoured goosegogs). If you live on acid soil Blueberries are worth a try but you have to grow at least 2 different varieties so good cross pollination takes place. Many types including: "Earliblue", "Bluecrop", "Berkeley" and "Herbert" plus very nice autumn colours before leaf-drop.

Strawberries Although too late to plant good sized runners this year the following Strawberries are worth a try: "Pegasus", "Hapil" and the old "Cambridge Late Pine". I haven't tried the newer autumn 'perpetuals' because I am very fond of the variety "Gento" which I have grown for 20 years.

Top Fruit

Turning now to tree fruit...

Apples So many to choose from and with flavour a very personal thing but the following will be good and reliable for most.
Dessert-Early (August/Sept.) "Discovery", "George Cave", "Laxton's Fortune", "St Edmund's Pippin" and "Lord Lambourne" all eaten off the tree and keep for 2-3 weeks.
Mid season (Oct./Nov.) "Egremont Russet", "Sunset" ('Cox' type but easier), "Ribston Pippin" ('parent' of "Cox" but bigger and superb!), "Kidd's Orange Red" (nice"Cox" type), "Merton Beauty".
Late (Dec./Jan./Feb.) "Orleans Reinette", "Ashmead's Kernal" (very old-circa 1700), "Pixie".
Cookers "Blenheim Orange" (dual purpose can be dessert, large), "Golden Noble", "Bramley" (big tree, sometimes biennial), "Lane's Prince Albert" (compact tree), "Rev. Wilks", and 2 late keepers: "Edward V11" and "Annie Elizabeth" (can under cool conditions last until April).
All should be grown on Semi-dwarfing rootstock M26 this suits all soils and conditions.
Pears "Onward", "Concorde", "Doyenne du Comice" and "Beth" (like the delicious Comice but smaller). Find a warm spot for these.

Stone Fruits These need shelter because of early flowering, sun, more nitrogen, ample summer moisture and correct pollination.
Plums and Gages "Opal", "Early Transparent Gage", "Denniston's Superb", "Cambridge Gage", "Jefferson", "Warwickshire Drooper", Victoria" and "Coe's Golden Drop".
Cherry Only worth it if you can net from birds, ideally against a wall or fence. "Stella" and "Sunburst" are good self fertile varieties.
The following are best against a wall/fence or even large greenhouse:
Peach "Peregrine", "Duke of York", "Bellegarde".
Nectarine "Lord Napier", "Early Rivers" and "Pineapple".
Apricot "Alfred", "Farmingdale".
If a wall is available, again south facing, the following have proved very successful.
Fig Give lots of room. "Brown Turkey" is best and widely available.
Grapes "Brandt" is a small dark grape, "Fragola (Strawberry Grape)" is reliable and "Siegerrebe" all good for eating.
Kiwi Fruit I have seen these growing on walls in southern England but have no experience as yet of growing them and now some self fertile types are around so only one plant can be grown if space is limited. If the summers are like 2003 they will do well as will all the above I have mentioned. Even apples will develop their classic different flavours in a good summer.

Nuts A bit of space needed for these. Hazels (Cobnuts and Filberts). "Kentish Cob", "Cosford" (good pollinator), "Butler", "Webb's Prize" and "Hall's Giant".

More information on flowering groups, training and cultivation can be found in text books and nursery catalogues.

Leafmould

Finally, the time of leaves is upon us and all leaves can be useful stacked for a year and provide valuable humus and nutrients for the garden, particularly Oak and Beech leaves which have longer lasting goodness. Mixing with grass mowings is useful and chopping them up with a rotary mower will speed the process. Find a shady place to stack and wet leaves stored in plastic bags will turn into something useful next year too. I often use some leafmould in the bottom of large pots during the summer as an 'extra'. Happy catalogue reading and planting of all that fruit...

Mail order catalogue for fruit/nuts

Deacons Nursery, Godshill, I.O.W.
Family Trees, Sandy Lane, Shedfield, Hants SO32 2HQ
Reads Nursery, Hales Hall, Lodden, Norfolk, NR14 6QW
Cool Temperate Nursery, 5 Colville Villas, Nottingham NG1 4HN.

Useful Information

Vegan Organic Network, Plants for a Future, and Movement for Compassionate Living.

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Cross-reference: Growing Fruit & Veg